Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed January 7, 1997
Contact: Mark Nickel

Color and black-and-white photographs available.

Vartan Gregorian, sixteenth president of Brown University

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Vartan Gregorian is Brown University's 16th president. Since his election in August 1988, he has led the University toward the next century, presiding over its growing internationalization, its leadership role in higher education and its public service to the nation and community.

During the eight years of Gregorian's presidency, the University has established 11 departments, including Modern Culture and Media, American Civilization, and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies; nearly 265 faculty members have joined the University; and the physical plant has grown with the construction of the Thayer Street Quad and additions for the John Carter Brown Library and the Department of Mathematics. Construction of MacMillan Hall, a new instructional science center, is well under way. Several major buildings, including Robinson Hall, the Catherine Bryan Dill Center for the Performing Arts (with Stuart Theatre), and the Faunce House student center, have undergone major renovations, as have most of the University's dormitories and dining facilities.

Gregorian has overseen the University's Campaign for the Rising Generation, the largest comprehensive fund-raising campaign in Brown and Rhode Island history, which concluded June 30, 1996, having raised $534 million - 118 percent of its original goal. Since Gregorian's arrival at Brown, the University's endowment has grown from $373 million to $802 million (as of June 30, 1996).

During his inaugural address, Gregorian urged institutions of higher learning to address pressing national problems, particularly the need to reform and improve the nation's educational system. Among the most dramatic efforts to that end were the establishment at Brown of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the dramatic growth of the Coalition of Essential Schools, one of the oldest and best-known school reform organizations in the nation. Gregorian has served as a pro bono academic adviser to Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation in the disposition of $500 million in challenge grants to major U.S. cities through the Annenberg Challenge to the Nation.

Gregorian also established the Leadership Alliance, uniting historically black colleges and universities with some of the nation's most elite universities, including the Ivy League. Those institutions now work together to recruit, develop leadership and retain excellent scholarly talent from minority groups for the nation's professoriate. Brown also hosts the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory, a five-year, $24-million federal center designed to bring new methods and technologies to public school classrooms throughout the Northeast.

Gregorian has continued the University's tradition of public service through Brown's membership in Health and Education Leadership for Providence (HELP), a coalition of the city's hospitals, colleges and universities, and its participation in the Providence Plan, a joint effort between the University and the City of Providence to erase poverty from the city's neighborhoods by the end of the decade. Brown continues to serve as the national headquarters of the Campus Compact, a national clearinghouse for public service serving more than 500 member colleges and universities. Gregorian has served as vice chairman of the Campus Compact, continuing a tradition of leadership that dates to Brown's role as cofounder of the Compact (with Stanford and Georgetown).

The rich cultural life of the campus has been expanded with the President's Lecture Series. The series brings to campus internationally distinguished writers, scholars and statesmen, most recently Tom Wolfe, Eric Rouleau and Francine du Plessix Gray.

Throughout his career, Gregorian has been a thoughtful spokesman for education and libraries through his work at the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Pennsylvania and Brown, and in his former capacity as president of the New York Public Library.

Born in Tabriz, Iran, Gregorian received his B.A. degree (cum laude) from Stanford University in 1958 in history and humanities, and his Ph.D. in 1964, also in history and humanities.

He has taught at San Francisco State College, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, the New School for Social Research, and at Brown. In 1974 he became Pennsylvania's first dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and in 1978 the university's 23rd provost and chief academic officer. He served eight years as president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library before coming to Brown.

Gregorian is the recipient of more than 40 honorary degrees as well as numerous fellowships, lectureships and awards from civic, educational and governmental organizations both domestic and international. His international decorations include the Grand Oficial da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique (Portugal, 1995), the Officier de l'Ordre des arts et Lettres (France, 1986) and the Cavaliere Ufficiale dell'Ordine Al Merito della Repubblica (Italy, 1986), among others. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Gregorian is married to the former Clare Russell, whom he met as a graduate student at Stanford. In Providence, Mrs. Gregorian has been involved with issues of children and families, with public libraries, and with Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island. The Gregorians have three adult sons: Vahé, Raffi and Dareh.